An attorney who practices in the area of residential real estate can assist homeowners with the process of buying and selling a home, as well as with issues that can arise after the sale. For many people, their home is the biggest single purchase they will ever make, and often their most valuable asset. Together with the realtors, a real estate attorney can look out for a buyer or sellerï¿½s interests. A real estate attorney can also ensure title to the property is clear, and take are of all legal issues that may arise before, during and after the sale.
The real estate attorney’s work may start with the purchase agreement for the property. If a standard real estate agreement is being used, the real estate attorney may be asked to draft additional clauses that ensure that contingencies are covered. Once the purchase agreement is signed, the real estate attorney will take the steps necessary to proceed with a closing, such as:
- Obtain a title search, review the chain of title, review a survey of the property, and inform the seller of the requirements to pass clear title;
- Issue an owner’s title insurance policy if they are a title insurance agent;
- Prepare or review the deed, any mortgage, any necessary bill of sale and other closing documents;
- Advise the buyers how title should be taken (such as joint tenancy, tenancy in common, or tenancy in the entirety) and how this decision will affect the buyers in the future;
- Address issues that are not covered by title insurance or a title examination, such as zoning ordinances and land-use restrictions, homeowner’s association issues, permit issues, homestead exemption and liens, including water, sewer and special assessment liens.
- Discuss tax consequences that may be involved for the buyer or seller.
At any point in the process, negotiations may need to take place over one or more legal issues. This is where an experienced attorney is especially helpful. At the closing, the real estate attorney will review and explain the various documents involved and make sure that all steps are taken to fulfill the intent of the parties as set forth in the purchase and sale agreement. Most importantly, the attorney will make sure that all of the steps necessary for the buyer to obtain clear, marketable title are taken, including the recording of the deed and other necessary documents.